Business Strategy Reminder After Rejoining The Sports Cards Hobby

(Originally published on LinkedIn on February 20, 2020.)

At a recent lunch meeting with Justin Rand of Rand Consulting, we discussed the need to have a hobby on the side, allowing a little relief to the normal grind of work, family, and life in general. He had taken his love of Jeeps and elevated the hobby to a new level, by creating the JepR app. If you have a minute and like Jeeps, check it out.  Our discussion centered around “busy-ness” and the need to unwind and have something to do other than the normal grind. Between kids, spouses, volunteer work, Business, church, etc., it is nice to have an interest to dive into with great enthusiasm, and even better if the interest can be developed financially. I have thought about that conversation many times over the last year and recently started, or more appropriately “re-started,” an old hobby. 

My re-kindled hobby came to me almost overnight. I recently commented on a Dale Murphy post on LinkedIn (Think Atlanta Braves, Major League Baseball – that Dale Murphy). Even the name Dale Murphy brings back great memories of my childhood. Watching the Atlanta Braves on WTBS was almost a daily event. Absorbing everything possible about how he (and teammates like Bob Horner, Glen Hubbard, Claudell Washington, Bruce Benedict, Rafael Ramirez, to name a few) played the game was very important to me.

Dale replied a “Thank you”-ish comment on my post. To say that I was giddy is an understatement. In fact, I have referenced that reply several times over the last few weeks and believe it to be the highlight of my Social Media Career. (Don’t laugh.) The most important thing it did for me was to light a fire – almost literally – and remind me how much I enjoyed baseball card collecting as a child. It had been years, but I rejoined the hobby and could not be happier.

I started by ordering several Dale Murphy and other cards from eBay and other sites. I spent a couple of bucks and had several cards. But then, I realized how much I liked the 1978-1980 cards of other players, too, so I purchased more. The nostalgia overtook me. Next, I decided that I wanted some quantity in my collection. So, I bought a few lots, and visited a local card shop (Nick’s) and purchased some of their pre-bundled packets. I instantly had more cards than I knew what to do with – baseball, football, basketball, hockey, autographed cards, and rookie cards. After continuing to research the hobby and subscribing to many Podcasts and YouTube Channels, I realized that some of the newer cards could jump in value immediately. That’s right – I could make some fast money with my new hobby! I ordered some Blaster Boxes, and other types of boxes so that I could “make a lot of money.”

However, as I made my way through the haze of cardboard and unplanned expenses, I had a conversation with my CEO, Mark Klein. I told him that I had started back in the hobby and he let me know that he has been collecting for a while. But then, he asked a pivotal question: “What’s your strategy for collecting”? And that’s when I realized — I do not have an effective strategy for my hobby. Instead, I was implementing multiple disorganized, undocumented, and immeasurable strategies. It would be virtually impossible to tackle this hobby without an effective strategy. The same holds true for businesses large and small as new strategies are developed and implemented.

A few points can be taken from my hobby experience over the last few weeks:

It is important to have a reason for developing a strategy: In the case mentioned above, the reason for the hobby was for me to find some enjoyment in something that interests me. A business might be entertaining new markets, or new capital strategies. Whatever the case may be, the reason comes first.

It is important to organize before developing and implementing a strategy: The first item to identify is the individual responsible for developing the strategy – or, more appropriately, the point person. If it is a personal strategy, it will most likely be you. In business, an individual should be identified as the main organizer of thought and ideas and should be responsible for driving the strategy development. A different leader (or leaders) may be assigned once the strategy is developed, but someone must keep it going in the right direction.

It is important to document the strategy as it is developed: Whether your preference is to write it down or type it out, make sure that the strategy is documented. My preference is to scribble notes into a little notebook as they come to me. When the time is right, the notes can be transferred to an electronic document in “rough draft” format. Don’t worry about how it looks at first. Don’t worry about grammar. These things can be corrected later. Additionally, when collaborating with other(s) at this stage, there are many ways to collaborate on a document. Microsoft and Google both have functions that make it easy to share and collaborate on documents.

It is important to provide ways to measure the implementation of the strategy: Can you imagine going on a diet without a goal in site? What about saving for retirement without milestones that can be acknowledged along the way? The same is true for strategy development and implementation. Identify the date the strategic outline needs to be completed. Include the appropriate people (whether associates for business strategy or friends/family/mentors for personal strategy) and develop milestones for completion. As a part of the strategy, define measurable results and how they will be measured. It is important to have milestones, whether they are monthly, quarterly, annual, that can be used to measure results.

These are simple points but can be easily overlooked in personal and business when developing a strategy. It is okay to implement multiple strategies at once, or to focus on one strategy or sets of strategies at a time. It is also okay to change strategies when necessary. Just make sure that you go through a regimented process in order to effectively develop and implement the strategy. Once I organized my thoughts and developed my overall hobby strategy, I split it into multiple smaller strategies (Vintage Cards, Bulk Cards, and Modern Cards). I will pursue different strategies in each of these categories and I will monitor them regularly, to make sure I am meeting my goals (and enjoying it in the process!). Keep in mind, a strategy is only as effective as the tactics used to develop it. The process may be long or short, involve many or just a few, but do not overlook the importance of a tactical approach to strategy development.

Business Strategy learned from re-entering “the hobby”. #businessstrategy #blog #2022

Collin Harbour

Collin W. Harbour is the Principal Founder of C Harbour Services LLC, a business transformation and strategy company that develops strategic plans by aligning sales and plans with company goals, people and process.

Collin is a client growth and business strategy leader with experience identifying new business opportunities, as well as managing and growing client revenues. Through C Harbour Services LLC, Collin focuses on creating customized solutions that deliver valuable services, allowing clients to focus on their core business. He is a Co-Host of Strike a Chord Live Podcast with his lifelong friend, Marcus Ellis. SACL Podcast is a Motivational and Inspirational podcast, with a mix of Nostalgia and Fun! Harbourtime Strategy Talks is a blog and podcast providing strategic content for companies of all sizes.